Leipzig University has a small but important collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities which are used as teaching material. Part of it is material that was collected for that purpose by Georg Steindorff, a professor of Jewish origin and had been bought from him by the University in 1936. A court in Berlin has now decided that the collection must be handed to the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC), considering that Steindorff had sold it under duress for a value far below its actual worth.
Leipzig university could produce no evidence to counter the charge that Steindorff had been forced to sell his collection under Nazi rule. It had taken the case to court in the hope of keeping the antique objects that the professor had collected on research trips. Steindorff, who held Leipzig's Egyptology chair, emigrated from Nazi Germany and died in the US in 1951.
Deutsche Press Agentur, 'German university loses Egyptian collection bought under Nazis', Monsters and Critics May 26, 2011,
So, now these well-provenanced objects will presumably be appearing on the market. What is interesting is that the wishes of Steindorff's family in the US have been disregarded as his legacy is split up and destroyed. Thomas Hemer, grandson of Georg Steindorff, wants the collection to stay in Leipzig. There is now a Georg Steindorff Initiative: Facebook page on this controversy. Over in Egypt, others have their eye on this once-partaged material:
Zahi Hawass Minister of State for Antiquities sent an official letter to the JCC demanding restitution of these objects, and threatened to file a lawsuit against it before German and international courts if the JCC did not comply.- but there seems to be a misunderstanding among their cardboard-cutout journalists what this is all about ("Hawass seeks return of pharaonic piece in Israel").